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Cartoonists and writers are raising awareness of free expression issues in Central Asia this week by competing in essay and caricature contests launched by IFEX members and partners in the region to commemorate World Press Freedom Day.
Journalists, free expression advocates and media owners in Kenya got some bad news at the beginning of 2009, after they learned that President Mwai Kibaki had signed into law a contentious media bill that imposed new restrictions on the press. But thanks to an immediate and massive campaign launched by IFEX member the Media Institute and the Kenya Editors Guild (KEG), President Kibaki directed the Attorney General and the Information Minister to review the bill and facilitate its return to parliament for debate.
Under the slogan "What you don’t know can hurt you”, ARTICLE 19 and the National Center for Social Communication (CENCOS) have launched the Permanent Campaign to Protect Journalists in Mexico on the occasion of the 60th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
CPJ’s Bob Dietz was on the ground in Hong Kong when John Ray, a reporter for ITV in England was hauled off by Chinese police while covering a peaceful protest in Beijing. He posted on the CPJ Blog about China’s “tough talk” the next day, as officials denounced the arrest of Ray and admitted he was working within the rules afforded him as a journalist. Though positive, Dietz wrote that it was “too little too late” and kept the pressure on Chinese and Olympic officials to respect media freedom.
Sri Lanka has long been considered one of the most dangerous countries in the world for practising journalists. In early 2008 this already perilous situation escalated, with the media suffering increasing cases of intimidation from the government. In May, the International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) and more than 45 international organisations responded to the situation by launching the campaign, "Stop the War on Journalists in Sri Lanka". The campaign calls for the government to honour the constitutionally guaranteed right to freedom of expression by protecting and supporting its journalists.
As Nepal headed into constituent assembly elections on 10 April, press freedom violations continued unabated across the country, despite a government promise earlier this year to "take seriously" the safety of media workers.
2007 was a brutal year for Somali journalists: nine reporters were killed, 53 media professionals were arrested, and five media houses were closed down, reports the National Union of Somali Journalists (NUSOJ). Press freedom violations skyrocketed by over 85 percent from the previous year, as political unrest and civil war escalated.